Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sporadic travel series: Burma

Okay, I am so, so behind on trips we've taken. But let's go way, way back to October, when we spend eight glorious days in Burma, or Myanmar.  (Need some background on the name?  Here you go.)

Burma is not gussied up, especially not Yangon.  In fact, it reminded me in some ways of Dhaka, that is, a cleaner, romanticized version of Dhaka, but with just as many men in lungis.  The point is, while Burma is a Southeast Asian nation, you can really feel the South Asian influence pretty strongly.  But I felt just as relaxed and pleasant as I always do in SE Asia, without the hustle and bustle of South Asia.

Bagan was amazing, with this incredible volume of temples, beautiful light everywhere, everything an ancient relic.  And we visited the less-touristed Mandalay, where the city itself is not really the attraction so much as the surrounding areas--the concentration of temples and leafy greenness on Sagaing Hill, and the feeling of traipsing through a civilization lost to history at Inwa, once the ancient capital of Ava.

I love this pic of James SO EXCITED for breakfast noodles in Yangon:

Of course, the gorgeous Shwedagon Paya, a major reason Yangon is a can't-miss:

Riding a horse-cart through the ruins of an ancient capital:

A random, not-at-all famous temple encountered on the road between Mandalay and Bagan:

Enjoying the views during sunset in Bagan:

And me and my new BFF, an old lady in a village we passed through on the way to that temple.  She called me into her house, and seeing how pale I am, decided I needed to be protected from the sun with sandalwood paste (we had no common language so I couldn't explain SPF to her):


Mommy said...

Sorry but my comment does not pertain to your trip (although it sounds amazing!). I started back at the beginning of your blog and had a question. With James having stayed behind when you moved to Bangladesh--was he put on your orders? Or did he have to fly out on his own dime each time and you had to notify the RSO that he was in country? This is what someone told me I'd have to do but it seems so strange that my HUSBAND won't be on my orders simply b/c he won't be living with us full time. Surely there are spouses who telecommute and travel a ton back to the U.S. or wherever for work? Any help is much appreciated!

Katie said...

Yes, my husband was on my orders. The HR Tech didn't want to do it that way... most of my husband's trips were still on his own dime.

However, in some ways it is inconvenient to do it this way. He had to keep buying round-trip tickets originating in Dhaka, which was tough because he wouldn't return for months but would have to book tickets as part of the "round trip." Plus, having him on my orders meant we didn't get Separate Maintenance Allowance, which would have been worth a lot more money than the plane ticket that was covered.

The main reason we wanted to have him on my orders was that he was on the register for the Foreign Service himself, and he could only defer his time on the register (which he needed to do to finish law school) if he was on my orders. Although since he spent a few months at post total that first year, it was pretty good to have him able to access the MED Unit, have a dip passport, etc.

Mommy said...

Thank you so much for the info! So hmmm I'm wondering then if I shouldn't put my hubby on my orders and do the SMA instead? I am on the OMS register currently and won't be going to orientation until spring.

In any case, he is military and will not be able to be with us full time at my first post (he is close to retiring)....but he will be visiting us probably as much as James did you in Dhaka.

So I don't bog down your blog maybe you can email me at tracygosnow (at) hotmail (dot com) to let me know the ins and outs of the stay behind spouse. rock!

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Ashley said...


I just spent a week binge reading your blog. You're living my dream! I can't tell you how amazing it has been to see your journey the ways it's changed you and your view of the FS. I'm taking the Foreign Service Exam for the first time before year's end and I'm so nervous. I haven't finished my undergraduate degree (International Conflict and Resolution), but once I do I desperately want to be an FSO. You're an inspiration! Please write more! I'll be checking back at least once a week for the rest of forever so, you know, no pressure.

Katie said...

Ashley, thanks for your kind words! Sorry I have been lame at updating lately... hopefully you have found the rest of the Foreign Service blogging community, the vast majority of which is way more active than I am! I am glad you enjoyed the blog, and good luck with the process--it is a long haul, but I have found it to be well worth it.

By the way, the FS blog Life After Jerusalem keeps an excellent list of FS blogs:

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